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Community: Protest Launched Against Microsoft in Kerala, India Schools

Nov 25, 2002, 23:30 (9 Talkback[s])

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"We find the manner in which the software to be used at the schools is chosen, and manner in which it is chosen, to be disturbing. The syllabus has prescribed software by brand. It is regrettable that the government has not framed or adopted any guidelines or standards to be followed for choosing the software. The IT@SCHOOL project patronises and prefers one brand over other products; and in making this choice, the government has not followed due procedure laid down by law. We submit that this is not fair to creators and vendors of other software.

"...We gather that there are nearly 2600 high schools in Kera1a. The scheme envisages that each school should have 10 computers within next three years. Cost of prescribed operating system is approximately Rs. 3500/- per computer. The application software specified in the syllabus costs another Rs. 25,000/- per computer. At the prescribed ratio of 10 computers per school, by the year 2004, this will cost the schools an astounding Rs. 74,10,00,000/- (rupees seventy four crores and ten lakhs) - (Rs. 3,500 + Rs. 25,000 = Rs. 28,500 x 10 computers per school x 2600 schools).

"...Even if the said corporation whose software is chosen provides software free of cost, we submit that the government should not include it in the syllabus. Providing schools or other educational institutions software at little or no cost, while the same software is sold at very high prices in the open market is a marketing trick. The corporation resorts to such tactics in order to reap benefits of having a pool of people who are familiar with their software packages and thus form an assured customer base, either as users themselves or as potential skilled employees. We are aware that equipping our students and teachers with skills in computer usage is the primary aim of the project..."

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